News & Notes #6

For this News & Notes I wanted to share a “Letter to the Community” I sent to all our local newspapers to be published this week.  I hope you enjoy it and appreciate all your support during the past year.

Letter to the Community

It is difficult to believe that a year has passed by since I assumed the presidency of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. These twelve months have a busy, exciting time for me and my family. The warm welcome from everyone has made our transition smooth and we are filled with excitement as we look ahead.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to those throughout the College’s service area who have been so supportive and positive. DSLCC could not have achieved the level of success that it enjoys without all of you. Virginia’s community colleges exist to offer educational and training programs and while DSLCC fulfills this role, I know that we do much more to add to the cultural, civic and social activities that make a “community” unique and a great place to live and work. Together we will strengthen and grow the college and I am excited to lead DSLCC into the future with your help and support.

My first goal was to listen, which I achieved through a series of twelve community forums, held throughout the service area. On the basis of what I heard, I formulated some short- and long-term goals for DSLCC which will provide the framework within which our faculty, staff and administrators will move forward. But the listening does not stop; I plan to continue hosting sessions throughout the area through which residents can express what they have successfully experienced with DSLCC as well as ways in which we can improve and grow.

My first year has ended, but our journey is just beginning. I look forward to working for you, and with you, to fulfill the mission of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.

John J. Rainone, Ed.D.
July 8, 2014

News & Notes #5

Many exciting things have happened at DSLCC and in our community over the past month and I’m happy to share a few of these items with you.

New Logo and Branding Campaign

Students, faculty, and staff, as well as the entire community, will soon see a fresh new look for DSLCC with the launch of a new logo and branding campaign.  The new logo was developed by our own Paul Vosteen and allows for flexible use in a variety of media and formats.  It is easy to recognize and gives instant brand identification.  The final point, and one that was especially important to me, was that it was respectful of our heritage, while being forward-looking as well.  Paul’s thought is that “the logo brings in the mountains and the Jackson River that border our campus that set us apart from so many other colleges in the VCCS.”  I could not agree more.

logo_socmedia logotype

A new logo is only a first step in a complete branding campaign and guidelines planned over the upcoming year. I want very much to have a consistent look and feel for every communication from DSLCC.  We will be working and phasing in new messaging, print materials, letterhead, social media, signage, business cards, and a new website.  A small team will begin working  with an agency to guide us through these projects.


What a terrific evening!  Thank you once again to everyone, especially faculty and staff, who made Commencement the topping on the cake of what’s been a truly wonderful year.  It was our hope to make this a memorable event in our graduates’  lives.  By all indications, I think we accomplished that and much more.  There were so many wonderful moments of graduation:  walking across the stage to receive diplomas as family and friends cheered every graduate; the wonderful speeches from our two students (David Shofstal and Emanuel Lewis); the poignant words from speaker Elizabeth Creamer; and seeing plenty of hugs from proud families, friends and fellow graduates.  Congratulations Class of 2014!

A gallery of photos from the event is available on the DSLCC Flickr Site.

Nursing Ceremonies

For a nursing student, being capped or pinned signifies completion. With the tight bonds made with peers and faculty members – and the prospect of beginning a professional career in nursing – the pleasure I had joining the Practical Nursing (PN) and Registered Nursing (RN) programs ceremonies on May 7 and 8, respectively, was truly an honor for me.  Congratulations to all the great Nursing Faculty who prepared these students and to the graduates whose path was long, steep and sometimes rocky, we commend you.

New 24/7 Tutoring Services Available to Students

We are pleased to announce new tutoring services available for DSLCC students beginning with summer sessions. Funded as part of the Success Coach grant from the VCCS, DSLCC has signed a three-year agreement with Smarthinking, a national leader in on-demand tutoring services.  These services provide DSLCC students with live, professional, online, 1:1 tutoring support so they can get help on or off campus, at night or on the weekend.  These services will supplement the already great academic support students receive from the Achievement Center and Library, but this enables students to get help when they need it and offers  support in those disciplines that we had previously not been able to provide.  Smarthinking provides tutoring services in 33 subject areas and can integrate with current resources such as Blackboard® and MyMathLab®.  Library Director Nova Wright will serve as our liaison.

Senior Law Day

DSLCC was proud to co-sponsor a Senior Law Day on Wednesday, May 21 in the Moomaw Center.  With over 200 in attendance, the Senior Law Day program was designed to provide seniors, their adult children, and other interested citizens with information and access to resources on a wide range of issues that are important to seniors but often difficult to address. Some of our very own local attorneys, as well as other local experts, provided meaningful and clear information on important subjects such as basic estate planning and probate issues, elder abuse and identity theft, long-term care contracts, nursing home negligence, how to pay for long-term care (including Medicaid planning and veterans’ pensions), and grandparent rights.  The last Senior Law Day was held in May 2011.  Special recognition goes to Doris Baker and Billy Ould for their work and assistance.  Members of the planning committee said, “We could not have pulled off the program without them.”

Major Grant Received

I am pleased to announce that DSLCC received a grant for $321,930 over two years from the Alleghany Foundation for a project “Increasing Educational Attainment in the Alleghany Highlands.”  The key components of the grant include hiring two full-time Career Coaches who will be sharing duties at the three high schools and the two technical centers located in Alleghany and Bath counties and the city of Covington.   DSLCC has been without a major presence of Career Coaches for over three years and these positions will help students explore career pathways and complement the college and career exploration activities implemented at the high schools.  The grant also allows us to expand the hours of a Dual Enrollment Coordinator as well as provide scholarships to expand enrollment in the Jackson River Governor’s School and in Dual Enrollment courses.  We are also exploring additional funding options to replicate these efforts in our entire service area.

We are excited at this opportunity to further serve each and every individual seeking academic credentials and workforce preparation.  My goal is that DSLCC will expand participation so no eligible student with the ability to benefit would be turned away from higher education.  I thank the Alleghany Foundation for their faith in DSLCC.

AACC Appointment

I am pleased to announce that I have been appointed to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Commission on Communications and Marketing.  As you may know, AACC is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges and the Commissions provide advice to the AACC Board and staff; encourage collaboration among community college entities and organizations; and provide a forum for focused conversation about the important community college issues and priorities of the day.  It is an honor for me as well as DSLCC.  I have experience serving on this Commission, having represented the Council for Resource Development (CRD) in 2010-2012.

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at  Thank you!

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News & Notes #4

Welcome to the next edition of News & Notes.  I want to thank you again for the positive feedback from many of you on these News & Notes.  If you would like for me to include additional information, do not hesitate to contact me.  As a reminder, if you would like to receive direct responses from this Blog, you can “subscribe” to it and receive emails each time I post.  Enjoy!

Commencement Speaker Named

As the spring season approaches, so does Commencement!

Commencement will be held on Tuesday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m. I am pleased to announce that Ms. Elizabeth Creamer, Director of Education and Workforce Development from the Office of the Secretary of Education for Governor Terry cAuliffe, will provide the Commencement Address.  Ms. Creamer also served in the same role for former Governor McDonnell.

As the former Assistant Vice Chancellor of Career Pathways and Workforce Development Programs for the VCCS, Ms. Creamer led a team charged with statewide leadership and administration of Workforce Investment Act programs, Postsecondary Perkins Grants, Career Coaches for high school students and adults, Apprenticeship Related Instruction, non-credit and customized training, Career Readiness Certificate, and Middle College, a bridge program into postsecondary education and employment targeted for adults without high school credentials.

During her tenure at the VCCS, Ms. Creamer helped launch the Commonwealth’s career pathways system which has provided training, technical assistance, and grant support to regional partnerships of Workforce Investment Boards, community colleges and employers to launch education and employment “pipelines” into advanced manufacturing, energy, and health sciences.  She has also previously served as a Director of Career Pathways and Dual Enrollment at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton and as an Academic Program Coordinator at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin and Suffolk.  Ms. Creamer has led a National Science Foundation project: Creating Pathways for the New IT Professional, and has served as a board member for the National Career Pathways Network.  A non-traditional college student who earned her baccalaureate degree as a working mother of three children, she holds a B.A. from Christopher Newport University and a M.A. from Old Dominion University.

Our graduates, faculty, staff, and guests will find Ms. Creamer inspiring with her story and passion for community colleges and workforce development.

Aspen Application Completed

On Tuesday, March 11, DSLCC submitted the final application for The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges. 

The Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

I would like to personally thank the writing team of Gail Johnson, Chris Orem, Gary Keener, and Michael Scott for their wonderful work.  We believe we have made a compelling case and will be notified of the results this fall.

Sustainable Agriculture Discussion

On Monday, March 10, a group of approximately 30 individuals gathered at the Rockbridge Regional Center to explore new programs and courses in sustainable agriculture and related topics.  I was impressed with the passion that so many have for these issues that are so important for the health, wellness, food/beverage supply chain, and other factors that impact the quality of life for the region.  Led by the efforts of Gail Johnson and Doug Jones, DSLCC has been discussing possible program ideas.


Congratulations to Cynthia Boteler on her selection of the Distinguished Educator award from the Black Concern Commission (BCC).  Selected by a group of your peers, the Celebration of Excellence Awards honors members who have made a profound difference in the lives of minority students through life-time service, leadership, teaching and overall dedication to the BCC mission.  The recognition is made for Cynthia’s profound contributions which have significantly changed the climate of a department, campus community, or the VCCS as a whole.  Please help me recognize Cynthia on this well-deserved honor.

Congratulations to Pam Brown on successfully passing all of the requirements to obtain her Masters of Business Administration (with an emphasis in Accounting) from American Public University.  We are very proud of you.

DSLCC Team Visits George Washington University

I was pleased to visit the School of Nursing at George Washington University with Lynn McAllister, Gloria Lawrence, Gail Johnson, and Sharon Johnson, CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board in February to meet with Dean Jean Johnson and her team.  The purpose of the visit was to discuss building on our current nursing (RN to BSN) agreement in other areas such as complementary and alternative therapies and potential courses in mental health.  We also had an opportunity to meet with a representative from the American Red Cross National Office on the possibility of DSLCC being a partner with some of their programs and services.

New Programs Approved

At the recent Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting, three new Career Studies Certificates were recommended for approval to move onto the Local Board for final approval.  These are outstanding examples of new offerings developed under programs already established, with the goal of adding new courses and expanding enrollment:  Baking & Pastry will complement Culinary Arts and Management and Instrumentation and Renewable Energy Technologies will add options through our Advanced Manufacturing program to meet changing employer needs.

Inauguration Date Set

I am honored to announce that the Inauguration of your 4th President of DSLCC has been set for Friday, September 19.  An inauguration is not just the formal ceremony, but is comprised of a series of events organized around the ceremony. These events provide opportunities for members of the DSLCC family, dignitaries and the entire community to celebrate all elements of the College and move forward together.

The inauguration is designed to unite those with a stake in the future of the college and the entire college family – students, faculty, staff, alumni, legislators, friends and donors – with a common understanding of the College and a vision of its future.

Rachael Thompson and Gail Johnson have agreed to serve as co-chairs of the Inauguration Committee.  They will be inviting members of the DSLCC community to join them in planning “Our Next Fifty Years.”

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at  Thank you!

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